In Defense of Cognitive Liberty


Though the Drug War’s disproportionately harmful effects on the poor and people of color seem to have been one of its major functions from the start, it has also been a war against cognitive liberty for everyone. On the DoseNation podcast, chemist Casey William Hardison shares an inspiring personal account of how psychedelics transformed his life for the better, and how he successfully fought a system which imprisoned him for pursuing his passion:

If the state was truly concerned for the health and safety of drug users, they would do more to give accurate information to the public and make treatment of addictions accessible (including addictions to alcohol, cigarettes, and pharmaceutical drugs). Instead, the state seems particularly concerned about drugs which can potentially lead to an expansion of consciousness. But why is cognitive liberty such a threat? Terence McKenna shares his thoughts on the revolutionary potential of the psychedelic movement in this excerpt of a speech delivered at the Esalen Institute in 1989:

The provisional model (psychedelic/open-ended partnership) way of doing things is the only style that can perhaps seize the controls of this sinking submarine and get it back to the surface so that we can figure out what should be done. If we continue as we have, then we’re doomed. And the judgement of some higher power on that will be: “They didn’t even struggle. They went to the boxcars with their suitcases and they didn’t even struggle.” This is too nightmarish to contemplate. We’re talking about the fate of a whole planet.

Why are people so polite? Why are they so patient? Why are they so forgiving of gangsterism and betrayal? It’s very difficult to understand. I believe it’s because the dominator culture is increasingly more and more sophisticated in its perfection of subliminal mechanisms of control. And I don’t mean anything grandiose and paranoid. I just mean that through press releases and soundbites and the enforced idiocy of television, the drama of a dying world has been turned into a soap opera for most people. And they don’t understand that it’s their story and that they will eat it in the final act if somewhere between here and the final act they don’t stand up on their hind legs and howl.

So this whole effort to bring the psychedelic experience back into prominence is an effort to empower individuals and to get them to see that we are bled of our authenticity by vampirish institutions that will never of their own accord leave us alone. There must be a moment when the machinery and the working of the machinery become so odious that people are willing to strive forward and throw sand on the track and force a reevaluation of the situation. And it’s not done through organizing. It’s not done through vanguard parties or cadres of intellectual elites. It’s done through just walking away from all of that. Claiming your identity, claiming your vision, your being, your intuition, and then acting from that without regret. Cleanly, without regret.

While I think the value of organizing should not be underestimated, he speaks eloquently for cognitive empowerment and inner transformation as a path towards cultural and systemic change.

Listen to the full speech at the Psychedelic Salon podcast:


More info on why drug prohibition does nothing to curb drug use and addiction and actually increases societal harm:

This entry was posted in Activism, conditioning, consciousness, culture, Drug War, Environment, Science, Social Control, society, Spirituality, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to In Defense of Cognitive Liberty

  1. Pingback: 33+ Cognitive Liberty And Neuroethics Articles - Autistick

  2. Jeff Nguyen says:

    The criminalization of drugs parallels the criminalization of being poor and minorities in America. Inner transformation is definitely needed to start the healing process.

    • Agreed. Psychedelics or entheogens may not be the right path towards healing for everyone, but people should have the freedom to explore them if they choose, just as everyone should be free to explore different spiritual, philosophical and political paths.

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